tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN June 13, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
that's a question for me to answer. i have said in my previous briefings of the senate and the house that my memo truthfully reflects my views. i'm not in position to comment on anybody else. so, from my perspective, senator, that memo is about what it's about. i do not know what was in anybody else's mind. i understand there are serious allegations that have been raised, and i think that it's up to director mueller to determine in the first instance whether any of these issues were within the scope of the investigation. that's why i haven't commented on it. i just appointed him seven weeks ago. i haven't talked to him about the substance of the investigation since then, but i recognize the importance of these questions, and i think that director mueller ought to review that and make a determination of whether or not he believes it is within the scope of his investigation. >> i appreciate that answer. it is distinct from an answer i got from you previously in another setting, so i want to make sure i understand you. >> well -- >> well, and i'll proceed
carefully. let's see if we can get to an answer that's appropriate in a public setting. is it not your argument that the attorney general made a recommendation to hire or fire the fbi director because that's outside his recusal? the scope of his recusal doesn't affect his ability to manage the department. >> i do have a personal opinion about that, senator. i just don't think it's appropriate for me to be expressing my personal opinion about that. i hope i haven't said anything inconsistent with what i've said elsewhere, and please let me know if i have, but yeah, i do not want to comment on the recusal. i think the attorney general made the decision to recuse. i wasn't there at the time, as you know, and there were processes, decisions that had already been made before i arrived about what matters would be appropriate for the attorney general to handle. when i stepped in, i continued consistent with what had been done by these career professionals in the department, and i believe that i have faithfully within the department
honored that recusal with regard to matters pending the department of justice, but i just want to comment on what may have been on anybody else's mind or offer any opinion about that because it's not for me to make those decisions. >> well, it is exactly, i think, why senator schatz asked a whole series of questions about the scope of recusal, because i am a lawyer. senator schatz may not be. he asked better questions than i did, but i also am having real difficulty understanding the scope of the recusal, its contours in definition, and i have an unresolved question about whether or not that's why the attorney general failed to appear before us today, is to avoid having to answer direct questions about the scope of his recusal. i do appreciate and respect your appointment of a highly talented special counsel, and there have been questions from both sides that imply strong support for his independence and his conduct, and i appreciate the care with which you are answering my questions, but i'm simply going to conclude by
saying i have unanswered questions that perhaps can only be answered by the attorney general himself, and it is my hope that we will have him appear before both the judiciary committee and the appropriations committee charged with overseeing the funding for the department he is currently directing. thank you. >> senator graham? >> thank you, mr. rosenstein. why isn't jeff sessions here today? >> senator, my understanding is consistent with what was in the attorney general's letter. i don't know of any other reasons beyond what he set forth publicly. >> okay. this 13 june, do you know of any reason for cause to fire mr. mueller, as of this date? >> no, i do not, senator. >> and that would be your decision, if that ever happened, right? >> that's correct. >> and you're going to make it, nobody else? >> as long as i'm in this position, senator, it will be my responsibility to make that decision. >> well, i'm glad you're in this position. is giving political donations a reason to disqualify somebody for serving in the special
counsel's office? >> no, senator, it is not a disqualification. it is not. >> as a matter of fact, many states, the judges and prosecutors are actually elected. donations are a part of that system, is that correct? >> yes, that's true. >> would it be a disqualification for somebody in the special counsel's office who had represented ms. clinton in the past to serve? >> you know, senator, it would depend on the facts and circumstances. as a general matter, i think the answer's no. >> isn't that much closer to a conflict of interest? >> i don't want to answer a hypothetical, senator. everybody needs to make a determination based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. >> how would you get it before the special counsel? what process could a member of the senate use to inform the special counsel that you'd have a concern about hiring somebody that represented clinton? >> we have a process within the department of justice, senator, so i would encourage you if you have those concerns to raise them with director mueller or to raise them with me, and i'll
make sure -- >> should i do it to you or him? >> well, you could do it to both. >> okay. that's fair enough. >> and we have career -- >> and i don't know if i'll do that, but i've read some things that were -- i don't think donations are disqualifying at all, but if you represented the clinton foundation or clinton herself, that would be a bit disturbing to me, but i'll take care of that. as to russia, do you have any doubt that the 17 intelligence agencies report that was submitted last year, or early this year, that russia interfered in our election is accurate? >> senator, this is an issue that's discussed at my confirmation hearing and several of you attended that. at that point, i had access only to the public -- >> right. >> -- information from which classified information -- >> so, what can you tell us now? >> i now have access to classified information, and i think that assessment made by the intelligence committee is justified based upon the investigation and the evidence they had. >> thank you very much. what role did you play in crafting this budget? where did this budget come from
for the department of justice? >> i appreciate that question, senator. the budget actually is a product primarily of career professionals in the department. >> all right. hello, everyone. i am kate bolduan. you have been listening fog some fascinating testimony from deputy attorney general rod rosenstein testifying before a senate committee, a job until a couple of days ago he didn't actually know he was going to have. that was supposed to be attorney general jeff sessions there. rod rosenstein, though, left sitting in and facing difficult questions. he's also saying very clearly that rosenstein says he sees no good reason to fire the special counsel in the russia investigation, robert mueller, a move that the president is said to be considering at this moment. all of this a prelude, if you can believe it, to the second blockbuster hearing before the senate intelligence committee that is in less than a week. that is coming in just a few hours from now. that is when rosenstein's boss, attorney general jeff sessions, he will be facing what is sure to be a grilling about the russia investigation and his role in the firing of fbi
director james comey. a lot to get to, what we knew, what we've known already, and what we just learned from deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. joining me now for the political and the legal analysis of this, cnn politics reporter and editor at large, chris cillizza, peter zetinberg is here, former prosecutor in the george w. bush white house, served as assistant special counsel in the cia leak investigation under special prosecutor patrick fitzgerald and diane eamon is here with strategic initiatives at the university of georgia school of law. all, thank you so much for being here and listening in with me on this fascinating testimony from rod rosenstein. peter, first to you. what we heard from mr. rosenstein there, saying that he saw no good reason to fire robert mueller. and under questioning, if he was told to, directed to fire robert mueller, he said that he would not do that. he would not take -- i'm not going to follow any orders unless i believe they are lawful
and appropriate orders. so, is this case closed, story over on this? >> well, it is as far as mr. rosenstein's concerned, but it's certainly -- if the president were determined to fire mueller, he would find, presumably, someone to do it. so, you'd have something like the saturday night massacre, where he would be directing rosenstein to fire mr. mueller, and if rod rosenstein refused, he would have to fire rod rosenstein, and then he would have to find his successor, someone in the department of justice who's been confirmed, and ask him or direct him or her to do it. so, it would be a blood bath. >> i mean, and if it went down the route a la watergate and how that played out, diane, what would the fallout be? what would happen to the investigation? >> well, if we look at history,
we know that the firing of special prosecutors by president nixon was essentially the watershed moment that led eventually to his resignation. it really becomes as much as anything a political question of what the reaction would be, particularly from the members of congress who have the power to impeach to this kind of behavior. >> can we just take one moment? chris, as we're kind of -- we're three steps in, because that's where the news is -- let's take two steps back, if we could, chris. here is what we knew as of this morning. we basically knew that the president -- no one knows where the president's thinking is in terms of keeping or firing robert mueller. chris ruddy, a good friend of his, he said this morning that the president is considering firing robert mueller. a source close to president trump, though, says that it is unlikely that he will fire bob mueller, but leaving the door
open that no one knows exactly where the president's thinking may be. how did we get here? >> ha! that's a really good question, kate, because i think your first point is the first thing anyone should ever say when it relates to will donald trump do something or not do something, which is no one knows what donald trump is thinking. sometimes not even donald trump in that he can say one thing on a tuesday and say the opposite thing on a wednesday and see no real issue there. we got here because we live now in extremely hyperpartisan times. donald trump did not create those times. he has made them worse. and everything is seen through a political lens. so, now we have trump allies. and chris ruddy is one of those folks, but i wouldn't put him in this category. i'd put newt gingrich, former house speaker in this category. we have trump allies and trump himself running down bob mueller, saying the special counsel is a witch hunt. that's donald trump.
newt gingrich raising questions about the people bob mueller has appointed to help him in the special counsel investigation -- >> chris, we have one of those sound bites from this morning, just for our viewers. let me play this for you. this is newt gingrich on "good morning america," speaking to george stephanopoulos and his take on what he sees wrong with bob mueller and the people he's surrounding himself with. listen to this. >> these are bad people. >> bad people? >> bad people. i mean, these are guys who are going to be after trump -- >> back when ken starr was special counsel, he had himself given contributions to republicans, yet you and others supported that effort. >> that's right, and i think we're in a different world. >> and he went on from there. we are in a different world and these are different, intense times. stephanopoulos rightly noting a bit of the hypocrisy newt gingrich was present 'but what is gingrich getting at? >> they're trying to undermine bob mueller. i don't think that that's necessarily, kate, about firing bob mueller. >> okay. >> donald trump has done a lot of things i could have never predicted. to me, firing bob mueller is so
obviously political suicide, he won't -- even donald trump would not take that gamble. but what i do think newt gingrich and others are getting at here is an attempt to say, no matter what bob mueller finds out -- well, i mean, of course he found that out! look, he put a couple lawyers who loved hillary clinton on his staff. well, of course, they arrived at "x" conclusion. i actually think it's more about a long-term campaign to undermine the conclusions that mueller's special counsel investigation finds, assuming those are not terribly favorable for donald trump. then it's about running him out of town, because newt gingrich is a smart political strategist. he is not dumb. he did not engineer the takeover of the house in 1994 by being dumb. what he knows is that getting rid of bob mueller today wreaks, as you other guests have said, wreaks of watergate! i mean, you don't even have to stretch to make that comparison. but a longer-term effort to raise questions about whatever mueller finds out has a potentially a much stronger
likelihood of succeeding strategically speaking. >> right, but what if bob mueller clears him in the end? then we've called it all into question, but anyway. >> they'll take that risk, i think. >> i guess so. peter, you worked for special prosecutor patrick fitzgerald. you've been in the middle of a storm something like this before. what is the impact, not with this kind of talk, though -- what is the impact of this kind of talk coming from allies of the president? rod rosenstein being asked, you know, he just hired bob mueller, now he's being asked if he's about to fire bob mueller before a senate committee. what's the impact of that on special counsel and everyone working with him? >> well, first let me say, i didn't work under these circumstances, because the bush white house had a hands-off approach to patrick fitzgerald. they were extremely respectful of the process, and they pledged cooperation with the investigation and they followed through with that pledge. so, you know, we didn't have to deal with the administration
attacking the process or the prosecution. there were allies of the president who would take shots at a time, but that was, you know, that was nothing that really was a concern to us. as to what mueller's team is doing, i think they got their heads down and they're blocking this out, and they are going to control what they can control. the stuff that they can't control, they can't. so, i don't think they're losing sleep over the possibility that they could all be fired or the special counsel could be disbanded, because it's simply out of their control. they're going to focus on their mission and do their jobs and block everything else out. >> wild times we live in at the moment. if you all could stand by, because if you can believe it there is more to discuss about what could be playing out on capitol hill in just a few short hours. stick with me. chris, great to see you. thanks, you guys, so much. more breaking news. we are just getting word also about this. north korea has released an american student, one of the four americans currently being
detained in the reclusive nation, and it comes on the very day that dennis rodman arrives in the country. are these two things related, or is it a coincidence? we'll be right back. la quinta presents "how to win at business." step one: point decisively with the arm of your glasses. abracadabra. the stage is yours. step two: choose la quinta. the only hotel where you can redeem loyalty points for a free night-instantly and win at business.
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all righty, we are just about three hours away now from the most significant, potentially consequential senate testimony since the last significant, potentially consequential senate testimony five days ago. oh, the times we live in right now. the hot seat still smoldering from james comey's bombshell testimony last week, about to get fired up once again. in the spotlight today, attorney general jeff sessions. he will be testifying in public before the senate intelligence committee about the russia investigation and the firing of fbi director james comey. a major question still to be answered -- will sessions say that he can't answer key questions, asserting executive privilege from the president? cnn will definitely be bringing you special, live coverage from washington starting at 2:00 eastern for that hearing. let's go to cnn's justice reporter laura jarrett, though, right now, ahead of that hearing, to lay out -- there are a lot of questions, clearly, that he's going to be facing, but what do you think some of
the key ones are, laura? >> yeah, absolutely, kate. another huge day on capitol hill. this time, attorney general jeff sessions in the hot seat, and there are five key questions we think he's likely to face. first and foremost, why exactly did the president of the united states fire james comey, and what was sessions' role in that firing? you will remember, sessions sent a letter to the president on may 9th, actually recommending comey's firing based on the fact that he had flouted doj protocols. but then the president changed the story of it and said that the russia investigation was on his mind. so, senators are going to want to know exactly how does this wear with sessions' recusal, since he's not supposed to know anything about the russia investigation? the next thing is that comey says that trump left him -- that sessions left trump alone in the room in the oval office, so we have to know, and senators are going to want to know, exactly what was sessions' thinking about this? why did he leave the room when there are strict protocols about what exactly the white house and
doj talk about? sessions, obviously, said that he told comey there are those lines, but comey says it a little bit differently and says sessions just stared at him blankly. the next thing is, did sessions of offer to resign? last week, cnn and others reported that the relationship had fractured a bit. but i am told that sessions has no plans to resign. but if he did offer, why? and we're told that the president didn't accept it. so, senators are going to certainly want to probe him on that and get to the bottom of it. the next is, what exactly is doj's position on the support for special counsel bob mueller? the trump confidante, chris ruddy, is now saying that the president of the united states is considering terminating mueller, but the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, is up on the hill right now saying that there are regulations in place, and that decision isn't up to the president. and last but not least, how many times exactly did sessions meet with the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak? cnn has reported that congressional investigators are
examining whether sessions had an additional, private meeting with that russian ambassador back on the campaign trail, but the justice department says it never happened, period. so, you can be sure senators are going to want to question him hard about that, kate. >> absolutely. laura, thank you. so many questions. thank you for laying it out for us. everyone will be watching to see how, and if he does answer those questions. laura, thank you so much. peter and diane are back with me. laura jarrett laid out the main questions here. diane, let me ask you this. on the question of executive privilege and will the president tell sessions to invoke executive privilege, the white house when asked about this yesterday said it depends on the scope of the question that sessions is asked. what kind of question, with all the list that we now see, what kind of question do you think would lead sessions down that path? >> well, it's hard to say, but i think, certainly, if a senator were to ask a question that directly impacts on military affairs, diplomatic affairs,
national security, we could expect the attorney general to invoke executive privilege. the question then becomes whether the senators want to go forward and try to compel him through litigation to answer, nonetheless. >> and that, of course, is a bit of a longer, drawn-out process that would be, you know -- >> absolutely. absolutely. on the other hand, if the question were, were you in the room on such-and-such a date at this televised event, obviously, there's no cause to claim executive privilege because it's not in any way secret, classified, confidential information. >> so, peter, one of the big questions, and there are lots, of course, for sessions, is his role, any role that he played in comey's firing. you saw that that was clearly part of the conversation that was going towards rod rosenstein just this morning, because that all gets to how recused is he really, in terms of sessions, with regard to the russia
investigation? what questions do you think they need answers to on this? >> well, i would be very curious about questions regarding the rosenstein memo that was at least put forth initially as the reason why comey was being fired. >> right. >> and they had this whole explanation that, you know -- and rod rosenstein wrote it. and then we're told a day or two later by the president in his interview with lester holt that, you know, i was going to fire him anyway, the memo didn't really affect my decision, it was because of russia. so, that raises questions about the whole origins of the memo and why it was written and whose idea it was to do it and whether it was all just a big charade, which it appears it was, and what the attorney general's role was in going along with this, you know, what i would call a
charade. >> i think all of us now can conclude, we need to stand by and see how he answers these questions this afternoon. so many questions coming at him. thank you, diane, peter. thank you so much for sticking around. really appreciate it. we're also following more breaking news. we are just getting word that north korea has released an american student, one of four americans that has been detained here, and it comes on the very day that dennis rodman arrives in the country. we are also now hearing that the student is in a coma, according to his family. cnn is in north korea. we're going to bring you an update live, next.
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news right now. north korea has just released 22-year-old american student otto warmbier. this is after more than a year in prison there in north korea. he had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. that is the good news that he was released, but there is also a very sad, tragic update to this. his parents just released this statement to cnn just a short time ago. i want to read it to you. "otto has left north korea. he is on a medevac flight on his way home. sadly, he is in a coma, and we have been told he has been in that condition since march of 2016. we learned of this only one week ago. we want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in north korea. we are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him." that is from the warmbier, fred and cindy warmbier, his parents. in another twist in this, the
warmbier release comes hours after nba star dennis rodman arrived in the north korean capital of pyongyang. cnn's will ripley is there in north korea, joining me now. will, this is hard to wrap your mind around. >> reporter: it and i just want to set the scene, kate, for a moment. i want you to listen to this. playing on loudspeaker around pyongyang. ♪ it's midnight here. every, almost hourly, songs like this are playing in the north korean capital to remind them of the sacrifices of their late leaders. and this kind of a scene is where dennis rodman is tonight and where otto warmbier was up until just a matter of hours ago, according to north korean officials, who confirm he has been put on a plane and is in the process of being medevaced home, according to his family, although the north koreans would not confirm any information about his medical condition, nor would secretary of state rex tillerson, who put out this statement, saying, "at the direction of the president, the department of state has secured the release of otto warmbier
from north korea. mr. warmbier is in route to the united states where he will be reunited with his family. the department of state continues to have discussions with the dprk regarding three other u.s. citizens reported detained," because keep in mind, warmbiev one. kim dong-chul, a nationalized u.s. citizen, is serving ten years hard labor, and two professors from the united states who were teaching at a university here have also just recently been arrested and are still facing trial on unknown charges, kate. and so, it's certainly a potentially dangerous situation when americans come here, living in this, potentially getting detained in an environment like this, and otto warmbier apparently in very serious -- in a very serious medical condition now, a coma for more than a year, 18 months in custody, hasn't been able to speak with his family. and apparently is in very grave health at the moment. >> just unbelievable. will, and do you know, have you been told at all, given any
indication if dennis rodman being in the country, if there's any connection there? >> reporter: from our conversations with the state department, this is a strange coincidence, the fact that dennis rodman arrived on a flight the same day that otto warmbier was being released. when cnn contacted the state department, they were surprised to learn of his trip and actually asked us to hold off reporting on it for a period of several hours, indicating that there was something else that they were trying to work on inside north korea that needed to happen first. we now know that that something else was, in fact, the release of otto warmbier. even rodman himself when we asked him at the airport in beijing, he said that the situation involving the four detained americans wasn't his mission here, that his mission is sports diplomacy. remember, he was here four other times, including those notorious trips in 2013 and 2014, where he was documented on film drunk much of the time. you know, he actually had a
meeting with kim jong-un that was canceled because of his out-of-control behavior and ehe yelled at cnn's chris cuomo during a live tv interview. nevertheless, he is back on the ground in this country. >> well, will, thank you for your reporting. you bring us special reclusive information every time, so thank you so. we will have more coverage on this breaking news next. new neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair with the proven power of retinol. reduces wrinkles in just one week. neutrogena®
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expedia. everything in one place, so you can travel the world better. and back to our breaking news. north korea has just released 22-year-old american student otto warmbier, this after spending more than a year in prison there. he had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. and according to his family in a statement just released, he is being medevaced out of the country and he is also in a coma
and has been in a coma since march of 2016. let me bring in right now, let me discuss what has happened here, and of course, you've got dennis rodman in the country at the same time, all of this. "daily beast"'s gordon chang is here, author of "nuclear showdown: north korea takes on the world." and valvina wong, former senior adviser. thank you both for being here. gordon, let me just get your reaction to the fact that otto warmbier, they say he's in a coma, and they say he's been in a coma since march of 2016. that is mind-boggling! >> it is a horrific regime, and we have to understand, that's the nature. you can have dennis rodman go there and praise kim jong-un as he's done on his previous trips, but we've got to remember that that's just dennis rodman being dennis rodman. this is, you know, kim jong-un is one of the worst disparates in the history of the world. there's not much more you can
say about it than that. >> we've heard from will ripley, from his contacts and from sources, from the state department. they say this is a strange coincidence that dennis rodman is in the country on the same day that otto warmbier is released. do you think there is a connection? do you think this is a strange coincidence? >> no, this is not a coincidence. i think what the north koreans are trying to do, basically, is start talks with the united states. i don't know if the chinese had been leaning on them to do that, and that's also a real possibility, but one way or another, the north koreans want to talk. and so, what they've done is they decided to release one of the people that we want, otto warmbier, and at the same time, they thought that they could start a back-channel to president trump with one of his friends. you know, dennis rodman is the only person in the world who knows both kim jong-un and donald j. trump, so this is a perfect opportunity for the north koreans to start a dialogue. and so, i think you have to look at those two events in that context. >> it's almost impossible to kind of wrap your mind around all of these various elements, but can i just also get your
reaction, just on the most personal level, it is impossible for me to wrap my mind around the fact that this 22-year-old boy has been in a coma for, according to his parents, for over a year, and his offense was trying to take down a propaganda banner from the hotel he was in. he didn't even take it. he left it there on the floor, and then he was arrested at the airport, and he's been in a coma for a year. >> well, it is certainly very shocking, but unfortunately, not at all surprising. we have to remember, again, as gordon chang just stated, this is a regime that goes back 60 years or more and has actually terrorized and brutalized many u.s. citizens, including, you know, killing over 30,000 americans during the korean war, and many were in p.o.w. camps. many thousands are still unaccounted for. so, again, this is really not very surprising, although shocking. >> what does the -- can you decipher this state department
statement for me, balbina, as you worked there? i'll read it again, just read it for our viewers. "at the direction of the president, the department of state has secured the release of otto warmbier from north korea. mr. warmbier is en route to the united states, where he will be reunited with his family. department of state continues to have discussions with the dfrk regarding three other citizens detained. out of respect for mr. warmbier and his family, we have no further comment on mr mr. warmbier," other than to say dennis rodman had no hand in it he's there as a private citizen. can you take me behind what's going on? >> yes, well, i think that's a masterful and diplomatic statement, which i don't think is a bad thing at this current time of tensions. now, i do think that -- i don't think the u.s. government is being disingenuous. i do think that the timing perhaps is coincidental, that dennis rodman arrives on the exact same day. however, what is not a coincidence are these two acts. and again, gordon chang, i agree with him. i do think that this is an
indication that north korea is interested in opening some dialogue with the united states. now, we have to be very careful. this dialogue is not going to include anything that, frankly, we are most interested in, which is north korea's nuclear programs and its missile programs, and that is made very clear. and so, what north korea is trying to do with dennis rodman is to completely separate sort of personal diplomacy, perhaps even directly with president trump, but separate out all the issues that, frankly, that matter to us the most. >> that matter, and should matter to every american from washington onward. balbina, gordon, thank you both for bringing the perspective. i appreciate it. the good news here is that he will be released and he will be back with his family very soon. our hopes, prayers and best wishes are with the warmbier family right now. let me turn a quick focus, though, back to washington on a very different topic. on capitol hill, all the focus is on, of course, the blockbuster senate intelligence committee hearings.
jeff sessions, the attorney general, will be testifying in just a few hours. rod rosenstein, his deputy, testifying today as well, but there are also critical health care talks under way. remember health care and how important that is to republicans to get that passed and through? just moments from now, president trump will be hosting 13 key senators for a lunch to push for action on this very issue. senators have been working on their own version of the health care fix for weeks after the house passed their own version. this has largely been happening behind closed doors. so far, no public hearings. no one's seen any text of what they're actually putting together so far. let me go to capitol hill right now. republican congressman dave brat brat of virginia is joining me, who is very involved in the house discussion of putting the health care bill together there. so, congressman, let me ask you, this process in the senate, it seems even that it's been more secretive than the house process, which has some complaints when that was all going on. do you know what's on the table on the senate side? >> no, not really. i mean, the shocking part, as you've accurately just said,
it's been a few weeks they're talking about a health care bill. they've had seven years. we ran on repeal of obamacare. that's not too hard to unpack the meaning of that phrase. and so, seven years later, it is a little bit shocking, and we need $1 trillion, which is a thousand billion, to do tax reform. so, if you lose the border adjustable piece on tax reform and you don't have the health care trillion, that's $2 trillion, that we need in order to do tax reform. and so, any day now, we're waiting. a lot of us voted for a bill we didn't think was perfect, but at least it solves kind of, it stabilized the health care market for the short run. and so, i hope they feel a little bit more urgency and get a bill through, like now. >> are you comfortable -- you know, some would say the argument is, the secretive nature of what's going on in the senate is out of necessity, because if it's out in the public, everyone's going to just go back to their corners, all the main issues are going to hold up these republican talks
as they have. are you comfortable with the process being secretive in the senate? >> yeah. i mean, i don't know if it's secretive. they've got a committee of 13 people that represent the people, and then they represent the senators, hopefully, a broad base of the senate. and so, yeah, they're being strategic in the short run before they lay out their bullet points and see how that floats with the public. and so, right now in the short run, i don't see a problem. >> one of the big issues, of course, has been the medicaid expansion issue and about to phase that out. i remember that with a huge part of the conversation on the house side. what if the phase-out coming back from the senate is seven years, as some republican senators want? could you get on board with that? >> well, it's a whole package, so we'll look at that, and the major piece i've heard that gives a little bit of good news is they're looking at ways to lower the price more, right? under obamacare, the price is going up 30%, the average person in small business is broke.
>> right. >> our plan, the price still goes up too much. and so, if they couple, right, if they want to do a little phase-in or glide path or whatever they're calling it, but they can show price reduction in some other way, then you know, we're flexible as long as it's better health care outcome for the american people. >> what about obamacare taxes still included? >> well, that's a problem, right, to do tax reform. that's the biggie, right? i mean, this is kinds kind of a obamacare's in the ditch, we've got to fix it, so no one's going to be in love with the product. but tax reform should ignite the whole party. and if you get the economy moving again, you'll get rid of some of this political tension that's in the air across the country, and that, you know -- >> congressman, in theory, shouldn't you all love the product? i mean, if you've got republicans in charge of the senate and the house, in a theoretical world, when as you said, you've all been running on it for seven-plus years. >> yeah. >> you should love the product coming out. are you already saying you don't think you're going to love it? >> well, i love adam smith and milton friedman and free market
stuff. i don't love federal programs, right? so, i'm bending over backwards trying to do this team player thing, and it's not optimal from my point of view. obamacare area structured in a way that as an economist, i knew it would fail in several years. structured top-down, central planning never works, and i'm afraid ours is doing too much of that as well, but we can tweak it, and we have several good bills coming up this week on like medical malpractice, to lower the cost, and so, we can keep fixing the parts. the initial thing i'm not in love with. maybe i'll fall in love later. >> you mean -- you let me know if you're falling in love. i can't wait to hear. >> i will. >> first things first, let's see what comes out of the senate. >> right. >> and when that actually happens and when they get a vote. >> right. >> that's a big question as well. congressman, thank you so. much. appreciate your time. >> thanks, kate. staying on capitol hill, we have wrag breaking news. the top republican on the senate judiciary committee is not ruling out investigating president trump for obstruction of justice. we have breaking details coming in. a lot going on today.
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the top republican on the judiciary committee is not ruling out investigating president trump for obstruction of justice. let me repeat that. he is not ruling out investigating the president of the united states for obstruction of justice. manu ma manu, what do you know? >> i just talked to the chairman of the senate judiciary committee. he had been asked by dianne feinstein to look into the issue of obstruction of justice saying this is the pursue of the senate judiciary committee. we have not heard grassley respond until moments ago when i put this question to him is this something the committee will look at. he said we're going to talk about it. >> feinstein says that she wants the judiciary committee to investigate potential obstruction of justice. >> let me give you a process answer because this is where we are. senator feinstein wanted to talk to me by phone today. i sent word back that i'd like to have her and i sit down face to face and we'll work out all of the subpoenas and all the
stuff we have to do in the future and work out a whole program. >> are you okay, though, looking at the potential obstruction of justice? is that something for your committee? >> we'll leave that to a conversation with feinstein. >> so saying that we're going to leave that to the conversation with feinstein on the issue of obstruction of justice, kate. showing that this is something that the judiciary committee is not ruling out. also the idea of subpoenas for further information about the russia probe including those comey memos the judiciary committee has been calling for that actually went to that comey friend daniel richmond, the professor from columbia. they're open to issuing subpoenas for that. showing a new area of investigation within the senate even as senate intelligence committee is doing its own probe, kate, clearly the senate judiciary committee also wants a piece of the action, possibly even obstruction of justice as well. >> lindsey graham hot on getting those memos for sure.
he's been telling you he is open to and will not rule out to issuing subpoenas. let me bring in cnn political commentator, contributor to the hill and matt is also a strategist also worked in the clinton administration. let's get to it. your reaction. chuck grassley tried and true republican, not ruling out, did not take the opportunity to say manu, that's premature, don't ask me. he did say i'm going to leave that to a discussion right now with dianne feinstein on obstruction of justice investigation. >> you provided a better answer than grassley himself did. i would have preferred as a republican who believes in this administration that he said look, i've seen no evidence of obstruction of justice. point to comey's words where comey said i felt that i was directed by the president to stop this. however, the words on the paper when comey was asked, did the words on the paper suggest a directive? he said no. the words on the paper are what matters, not how comey felt.
i wish that grassley would have pointed that out. >> is that troubling? this is more investigations now, more avenues of investigations rather than less now that you've got a special prosecutor happening with respect-led committees. >> i don't find it troubling because at the moment i see no evidence of obstruction of justice or russian collusion. if there's evidence it's troubling but we have no evidence there's any of that. >> matt, what is your take? dianne feinstein said she would like the judiciary committee to investigation obstruction of justice. where do you think this goes? >> we have no idea. i mean, predicting anything in the trump world is dangerous, but we really have no idea where such investigation could end up. i mean, look, is there actual smoking gun right in front of us? evidence of obstruction of justice? no. but the fact of the matter is he fired james comey. there very well could be something that the president is very much afraid of coming out. we don't know that yet. and i applaud senator grassley
for having the wherewithal to say sure, we're going to follow this where it leads. >> as a democrat who wants this investigated thoroughly, if you're being honest, you think that he probably did obstruct justice. do you think this gets in the way of the special prosecutor's job? >> i think that the judiciary committee will be very careful not to do that. i would guess if they're going to coordinate closely with mr. mueller to make sure that they don't step on him in any way or provide some sort of cover for witnesses that he has to investigate more thoroughly. >> you mentioned firing. let's talk about the issue of firing. not of james comey, though, but of the potential perspective maybe, maybe not, of the special prosecutor himself robert mueller. this all started with allies of the president kind of targeting mueller, then word that the president was considering firing mueller for a reason we don't know. then you said -- then we heard clearly from this man on your screen, rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who would be the man that would be
charged with the following and he said he see ns no good reaso. he said i will not follow any orders unless i believe they are lawful and appropriate orders. case closed? >> no. we still need to wait for this to develop. he may need to fire at some point if mueller leads a partisan investigation. newt gingrich has brought up excellent points. why is mueller staffing a staff full of four attorneys who have all donated to the democratic party. >> ken star gave money to republicans. republicans were fiep wine with. >> but one of these attorneys argued with the most expansesive concept of obstruction of justice. these are the people being staffed. that's crazy. >> that was his job as a lawyer. he was an advocate in front of a court. thae that's ridiculous. if this president fires mueller by firing rosenstein, his presidency will be over. he will so horribly shoot
himself in the foot. he will be unable to proceed forward. >> stand by to stand by, folks. special coverage of this continues in just a moment. thanks, kaley and matt. yeah. could save thousands. you should probably buy me dinner. no. go to lendingtree.com for a new home loan or refinance. receive up to five free offers and choose the loan that's right for you. our average customer could lower their monthly bills by over three hundred dollars. go to lendingtree.com right now. i wish you were here. i miss home. ♪ ♪
for those who find a way. always unstoppable. kayle welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thanks for sharing your day with us. there are a lot of big moving parts here in washington this afternoon. the attorney general jeff sessions is the day's star witness on capitol hill. set to give public testimony about his election year meetings with russian officials and his controversial role in the firing of former fbi director james comey. >> i'm going to ask him questions about essentially what he knew when he knew it. and what happened in that february 14th meeting with the president when he was asked to leave the room. >> the deputy attorney general also testifying before congress officially to discuss budget